Police did not fail man who asked for help over “suicidal” family member

Published Date: 19.05.2016

A Police Ombudsman investigation has found that police did not fail to help a man who asked for help over fears a family member was contemplating suicide.

The man lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman’s Office that police did not send officers to help when he reported that a relative was suffering a mental health crisis and had cuts to the neck.

A Police Ombudsman investigator obtained a copy of a non-emergency phone call made by the complainant in the early hours of a morning last November.

During the call, which was taken by a police call handler, he asked police to detain the person under mental health legislation to help prevent any further self-harm.

The call was referred to an officer who called back 25 minutes later and established that the person was at home, being looked after and in no immediate danger.

He then explained that in the circumstances police could not remove the person from their own home, unless there was a risk to the safety of the person or others, or a possible breach of the peace.   

The officer advised the man to call the out of hours doctor, and to call back if the situation changed.

A Police Ombudsman investigator confirmed that the advice given by the officer was correct and in line with police procedure.

Her closure letter to the complainant explained that mental health legislation allows police to detain a person in their own home only if they are a risk to themselves or others, or if there is a risk of a breach of the peace, or if they are unable to care for themselves and are not being properly cared for by anyone else.

Twitter home